• Susanne Birgersdotter

Fostering accountability in the workplace is an essential part of running a business. Workplace accountability is the practice of entrusting aspects of the business to its team members. It is taking responsibility and ownership of the task or department assigned. While teamwork and collaboration encourage creativity and loyalty to the organization, accountability increases productivity, initiative, and engagement.

The Importance of Accountability in an Organization

Accountability has a direct effect on employees’ quality of work, timeliness, and completeness. When everyone knows their tasks and their impact on the goals of the company, everyone will work hard to complete their share of the burden. Without the enforcement of accountability, only a handful of hardworking employees will take the burden of the tasks. This will create tension and animosity within the organization where the slackers are unproductive and the workers will be forced to take on the tasks of the slackers, which will lead to the workers resenting the slackers.

In an organization where accountability is implemented:

  • Task owners acknowledge the responsibility and its impact on the company goals. They take initiative in its completion. Using the company’s resources, they make plans and communicate to the relevant team members the plans, any help needed, and other members who will be involved in the work.

  • If there is a possibility of not completing the task and its crucial results delivered on time, task owners will inform the affected persons or department and will try to get it completed to the best possible degree.

  • Team members assisting the project will ensure the quality of their contributed work.

  • In case of problems arising from the completed work, task owners are expected to take accountability and rectify the issue.

  • Task owners are expected to provide regular updates of their work or project to individuals affected by it.

How to Foster Accountability in your Business

While we all want to develop friendly and amicable relationships within the organization, we must also make sure that everyone is on board when it comes to working accountability. Here are steps to enforce accountability without straining harmonious and friendly working relationships within the organization:

  1. Set clear goals – You and the task owners must be on the same page about the goals of the project you are assigning to them. Specify the important details – deadlines, deliverables, targets, tools, resources, and other aspects of the task.

  2. Trust and support your employees – Once you’ve delegated the project or task, provided the tools and resources necessary for its completion, let the employees know of their goals, it is time for you to step back. Let the assigned do his or her work. Micromanagement isn’t helping anyone. The appropriate time for you to get involved is when the task owner asks for your help.

  3. Keep an open line of communications – An open line of communications will encourage clarifications, frequent progress reports, and sharing of ideas in the duration of the project. Communication should be two-way, where you encourage employees to initiate communications.

  4. Everyone is accountable – Everyone should be accountable for their tasks and roles in the organization. While employees can be held accountable for their tasks and projects, leaders and managers of the team are also accountable for its completion and the team’s accomplishments. No one is excused and everyone is expected to perform and do their share of the work.

  5. Positive reinforcements – Focus on rewards rather than punishments. Positive reinforcements in the form of rewards and/or recognition are more effective and encouraging than the negative form of discipline like withholding or taking away incentives.

I learned the hard way that entrepreneurship is not only about creativity, hard work, and passion. It is also making sure all aspects of the business are running efficiently and productively, and that includes the people inside the organization. I was so focused on developing the product and getting enough funding that I wasn’t paying enough attention to the people inside the company. Many startup entrepreneurs with great ideas, ample funding, and business sense fail when it comes to people management. You can avoid the same mistakes by instilling a culture of accountability within your organization.